BLOG 124 PAIN KILLERS
Every BODY has their own level of tolerance for pain. Sometimes we need assistance to overcome a hurt or sensation that is terribly uncomfortable say from the dentist, a surgery, or from an injury. Doctors will then prescribe medications to alleviate this discomfort, understanding this is a temporary solution for a medical need. But somehow, the use of painkillers has become an apparent problem in our habit forming society who rarely does anything in moderation. On our fitness journeys, pain can occur from injuries and setbacks, thus, let’s take a look at these pills and inspect what they do to our bodies.
Our body detects pain and tells us and boy oh boy we feel it. Here’s the low down: “When part of your body is injured, special nerve endings send pain messages back to your brain. Painkilling drugs interfere with these messages, either at the site of the injury, in the spinal cord or in the brain itself” (http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/whoami/findoutmore/yourbrain/howdodrugsaffectyourbrain/howdopainkillerswork). Aspirin and opiates are the two types which are the foundational ingredient. Aspirin comes from willow bark and it helps alleviate pain from inflammation. It helps with swelling. Opiates come from the opiate poppy and are the more dangerous form: “The most active substance in opium is morphine – named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Codeine, a less powerful drug, is also found in opium. Both these opiates relieve pain, relax muscles and cause drowsiness. All opiates mimic your body’s own painkillers. Morphine is a very powerful painkiller, but it is also very addictive” (http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/whoami/findoutmore/yourbrain/howdodrugsaffectyourbrain/howdopainkillerswork/whatareopiates).
The reality is that when something makes us feel good, we like it and want more. Human nature at its finest. In fact, “In the last ten years, stimulant prescriptions have seen an increase from 5 million to 45 million, while opiate/opioid prescriptions grew from 30 million to 180 million” (http://drugabuse.com/). Even worse check this out: “n 2012, 259 million prescriptions for painkillers, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Opana, were written in the U.S. When used improperly, these legal opioid drugs can present some of the same risks as illicit heroin sold on the street. While 467,000 people in the U.S. struggled with heroin addiction in 2012, over 2 million were estimated to abuse opioid painkillers” (http://drugabuse.com/featured/the-effects-of-opiates-on-the-body/). Veins can collapse, heart lining can become infected, sedation can occur, breathing becomes slowed causing respiratory issues that can be fatal, you can actually become more sensitive to pain, and your immune system becomes suppressed. The liver is greatly damaged trying to process all this.
Pills and drugs are quick fix solutions and band aids, not part of the life style changes we are aiming to create. Know yourself and your personality when faced with pain and let your doctor know. Communication is critical. Body awareness and self-control are troublesome when tested with convenience but you are so much stronger than you think you are.